I know I’m late to the party with this review (life kinda gets in the way sometimes), but it’s been a week and I’m still euphoric from last Thursday’s Old 97’s shows so I thought, what the hell, might as well share some thoughts and videos.
My hubby and I always vacation in and around New York City the first week of December. As the Fates would have it, this year coincided with not one, but three Old 97’s concerts in Manhattan/Brooklyn. I love synchronicity. Synchronicity ROCKS!
As you all know by now, the band drove all night from Baltimore to the Big Apple Wednesday. Besides playing until the early hours, their presence was requested at one presser after another, including a 3am wake up call to perform all morning for Don Imus. Most bands would wilt under that kind of grueling schedule, but I’m here to tell you what we witnessed was the polar opposite.
Wednesday night was classic 97’s. Interspersed amongst old crowd favorites Won’t Be Home, Rollerskate Skinny and Big Brown Eyes, we were treated to a couple of new tunes like the lovely “Love Is What You Are”, the chugging “Please Hold On…” and even a growling version of “I’ll Cry Instead” in honor of John Lennon.
The sold out gathering was all aglow as they exited the steamy venue into the cool street.
But Thursday night’s performance was On. Its. HEAD!
From the first chord of The Grand Theatre until the long, lingering, last note of Time Bomb the energy was pegging at eleven!! Outside of Love is What You Are and Question, they never let up. EVER. Ken’s grinding guitar, Rhett’s bellowing vocals and brain-bruising head bangs, Murry’s heart-thumping bass, Philip’s signature cadence… we were puddy in their hands. They played the audience to perfection, whipping us into a whisky-soaked, sing-along frenzy. The packed house willingly filled in the vocals for Barrier Reef, Big Brown Eyes, Stoned as well as Rhett’s acoustic set of Niteclub and Our Love. Seriously, how cool is it to step away from the mic and listen to hundreds of people sing your words back to you unprompted?
They all looked like they were having a blast chatting to each other on stage, Ken and Murry playing with the crowd as well as each other.
Several times Ken perched precariously at the end of the stage, teasing the audience while his telecaster sizzled.
But Dude. The set closing “If My Heart Was a Car”…
Holy Mary, Mother of God!
It was completely off the charts INSANE! I’ve never seen this live before. It started off slowly with Ken literally sitting on the edge of the monitor plucking the opening, then it just exploded with a balls-to-the-wall energy generally reserved for Time Bomb. Each of them went crazy in their own individual way. Like a priest at High Mass, Rhett anointed the front row with Rhett-sweat cast from his fevered head bobs. This was Rock ‘n Roll, Baby!!
All of that and they STILL put in a high octane performance of Time Bomb. Aaaa Time Bomb. The first chord strike of that song is always bittersweet for me. I love it because they all play it with such abandon, squeezing every bit of energy they have left into that song, but it signifies the end of the evening and I’m never ready to say goodnight. Like an insatiable child, I want to stand up and say “Do it again!”
If this is how they play after walking through the Valley of Exhaustion, clearly sleep deprivation works for them.
Initially I was bummed not to be able to go to Brooklyn for day three of Old 97’s Take Manhattan, but after Thursday’s incredible show I was satisfied. I couldn’t imagine how they could have topped that one.
There were so many incredible moments that evening. I wish I would have recorded more, but honestly I just wanted to drink it all in and sing at the top of my lungs. And really, isn’t that what’s it’s all about.
Get ready West Coasters. Your world’s about to get rocked.